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NHS CHECK: protocol for a cohort study investigating the psychosocial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on healthcare workers

By Danielle Lamb, Neil Greenberg, Matthew H Hotopf, Rosalind Raine, Reza Razavi, Rupa Bhundia, Hannah Scott, Ewan Carr, Rafael Gafoor, Ioannis Bakolis, Siobhan Hegarty, Emilia Souliou, Anne Marie Rafferty, Rebecca Rhead, Danny Weston, Sam Gnanapragasam, Sally Marlow, Simon Wessely, Sharon Stevelink

Posted 15 Jun 2021
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.06.08.21258551

Introduction The COVID-19 pandemic has had profound effects on the working lives of healthcare workers (HCWs), but the extent to which their well-being and mental health have been affected remains unclear. This longitudinal cohort study aims to recruit a cohort of NHS healthcare workers, conducting surveys at regular intervals to provide evidence about the prevalence of symptoms of mental disorders, investigate associated factors such as occupational contexts and support interventions available. Methods and Analysis All staff, students, and volunteers working in each of the 18 participating NHS Trusts in England will be sent emails inviting them to complete a survey at baseline, with email invitations for the follow up surveys being sent 6 and 12 months later. Opening in late April 2020, the baseline survey collects data on demographics, occupational and organisational factors, experiences of COVID-19, a number of validated measures of symptoms of poor mental health (e.g. depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder; PTSD), and measures of constructs such as resilience and moral injury. These regular surveys will be complemented by in-depth psychiatric interviews with a select sample of healthcare workers. Qualitative interviews will also be conducted, to gain deeper understanding of the support programmes used or desired by staff, and facilitators and barriers to accessing such programmes. Ethics and Dissemination Ethical approval for the study was granted by the Health Research Authority (reference: 20/HRA/210, IRAS: 282686) and local Trust Research and Development approval. Cohort data are being collected via Qualtrics online survey software, are pseudonymised and held on secure University servers. Participants are aware that they can withdraw from the study at any time, and there is signposting to support services for any participant who feels they need it. Only those consenting to be contacted about further research will be invited to participate in the psychiatric and qualitative interview components of the study. Findings will be rapidly shared with NHS Trusts to enable better support of staff during the pandemic, and via academic publications in due course.

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